The Clarence River
The Clarence River Debrah Novak

Greens issue challenge

THE GREENS have issued a challenge to all contenders for the upcoming Clarence by-election - state your position on mining at the headwaters of the Clarence River.

NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham was in Grafton yesterday in support of Greens candidate for Clarence, Janet Cavanaugh.

The pair raised grave concerns for the Clarence River if a 1.5km x 0.5km open cut antimony mine was approved at Wild Cattle Creek - a tributary of the Nymboida River.

Readings near the proposed mine site, which is being explored by Anchor Resources, have already shown dangerously high levels of antimony and arsenic.

"We are calling on voters to send a message to Barry O'Farrell, letting him know that they want him to rule out mining in the headwaters of the Clarence," Mr Buckingham said.

"We're not against all mining but it's got to be responsible mining.

"The risks associated with mining - especially for antimony and gold in the headwaters of the Clarence are too great.

"The experience in the Macleay should be a cautionary tale - you've got an entire river system that's been polluted that's going to be impacted for a millennia to come. "

Some 271km of the Macleay River, from Armidale to South West Rocks, have been polluted with antimony and arsenic from the Hillgrove mine and residents were warned by NSW Health last month not to drink the traditionally pristine river water.

"We've seen at the antimony mining at Hillgrove, even with modern mining techniques, even with irrigation and evaporative ponds we've seen four overflow and pollution events there since last year," Mr Buckingham said.

"You would not want to see that happen in the Clarence and put at risk the tourism, the agriculture, the fisheries.

"Would you eat the fish or the shellfish from that area (Macleay)? I think the answer's no."

Mr Buckingham called for a fast-tracking of a Strategic Regional Landuse Policy for the North Coast.

He said the Upper Hunter, New England North West, Central West and Southern Highlands would have SRLPs done out of this year's budget of $2.1 million but he was unsure when the North Coast's policy would be done.

"With the amount of mining and coal seam gas proposed in the Dorrigo Plateau, the Macleay, Clarence Richmond and Tweed Valleys - a SRLP should fast-tracked for the region."

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